Calls for independence from western Canadian provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan have become increasingly popular following Justin Trudeau's re-election in October 2019. A group behind the “Wexit” movement wants to enter politics to hasten the separation of the four provinces of Western Canada from the rest of the country.
THE “Wexit”Pun related to “Brexit”means “Western Canada Exit,” that is, the withdrawal of the four western region provinces from Canada: Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Manitoba. These independence moves are based on the idea that the federal Liberal government opposes the exploitation of the region's most important resources, oil and gas.
The province of Alberta is nicknamed the third largest oil reserve in the world after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela “Oilberta”, produces almost 80% of Canada's oil. However, unemployment is above the national average (7.2% versus 5.9%). There has been an economic crisis in the province since 2014 and there is growing resentment among residents against the federal government, which they say is doing nothing to increase crude oil sales abroad.
On the way to founding a political party
At the forefront of the movement “Wexit”, you find a former soldier, Peter Downing. With his motto “The West wants out” (The West wants to separate), the movement is very present on the Internet. On his website and his Facebook group “VoteWexit.com”Peter Downing announced the launch of an online petition to convert his movement into a political party and allow him to stand in the next election.
In fact, Justin Trudeau's re-election on October 21 was the reason for the hardening of the movement. In Alberta, 34 Conservative MPs were elected to the House of Commons and not a single Liberal, creating an unprecedented situation, just as in the province of Saskatchewan. Alberta is the third richest province in the country and its representatives make up just 10% of the national parliament. An imbalance that motivates the separatists. Peter Downing recently told CTV: “Right now we have no hope, there is no reason for Justin Trudeau to rule us”. He then took inspiration from Quebec's separatist movement, which has been electing representatives since the 1990s, explaining: “We will do for Western Canada what the Bloc Québécois does for Quebec.”.
For Bloc Québécois leader Yves Blanchet, the autonomous movement in western Canada can only strengthen his own party: “It will normalize the fact that Quebec can potentially go further [pour] redefine a new agreement [entre] two sovereign nations. And once that’s done, anything is possible in one direction or the other.”he explained The press. That is, for Blanchet this is “Wexit” does not have to be: “I don’t believe in Wexit”he explained. “To me, this is another fable or political tool that Jason Kenney has cleverly used. But I don’t believe in any secessionist desire on the part of Alberta, much less its ability to seduce British Columbia.”.
An energy “war cabinet”
Peter Downing also contacted Alberta Conservative Premier Jason Kenney. “He has a chance to be a hero. Lead us to the threshold of our economic freedom, social stability and self-determination.”he told CTV. He called for a referendum on the secession of the province. Jason Kenney has set up a traveling commission to survey the public and ask whether Alberta should have its own pension plan like Quebec or whether the province can keep its own immigration policy. The Prime Minister also created a “Energy War Room”an energy “war cabinet” to promote the province’s oil and gas production and address alleged misinformation on the subject.
However, the province's full independence poses some major obstacles. Alberta has no direct access to the sea and neighboring British Columbia still opposes the construction of pipelines, particularly the Trans Mountain expansion approved by Ottawa. During an interview with CBC television on Thursday, December 19, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged this “Frustrations” of the residents of these provinces, but believes that this did not call national unity into question. “I don’t share some people’s opinions. […] There are problems that we have to solve together. I don’t think Albertans are suddenly turning away from the rest of Canada.” he explained.
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